Township defends warehouses, trucking ordinance
It’s possible for someone to put 1 million square feet of warehouses or truck terminals on a 119-acre property in Upper Saucon Township, the township’s engineer told a developer, township supervisors and an audience of about 100 people Monday night.
Charles Unangst, the president of Hanover Engineering, testified on behalf of the township during a public hearing over a challenge filed by a developer who claims the township’s zoning code won’t allow for warehouse or truck terminal use.
The meeting was the second after Kay Lehigh LLC filed a challenge to the township’s zoning ordinance. Kay, which hopes to use a 119-acre property off Route 309 near East Valley Road for warehousing, alleges that a ban on trucking terminals within 500 feet of residentialzoned districts or buildings like schools, day cares, playgrounds and hospitals acts to keep trucking terminals from the township.
Kay is hoping for a curative amendment that would allow it to put a three-building trucking terminal on the property. Kay Builders had previously considered a mixed-use development there.
On Monday, Unangst testified that Kay Lehigh could subdivide the property to create three parcels for truck terminals that add up to 1 million to 1.1 million square feet of space. Under his plan, there’d be three parcels left on the property that could be commercially developed.
“The ordinance is valid,” said Rob Gundlach, the special counsel to the township. “The applicant can reasonably develop this property and comply with the 500 foot separation requirement.”
Jason Engelhardt, an engineer from Bethlehem-based Langan Engineering, testified Aug. 12 for Kay that a threebuilding truck terminal would have 413 loading docks and if it worked at full capacity, it would bring 817 trucks per day.
At that meeting, Engelhardt testified that the 500 feet is not a setback or a buffer but actually a way to exclude trucking terminals.
“No warehouse could exist under this zoning law,” Engelhardt said. “The 500 feet is exclusionary from one property to another.”
Unangst on Monday night said that there were some existing properties that did not comply with the 500 foot rule. Jim Preston, the attorney for Kay, noted through questioning Unangst that warehousing or truck terminals couldn’t be put on the property as it currently exists without changing things like lot lines and road access.
Township supervisors will have to hear public comment before they decide how to handle the challenge from Kay. The next curative amendment hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Morning Call reporter Michelle Merlin can be reached at 610-820-6533 or at mmer[email protected]